The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I See Sheep

I didn't knit on Monday. Didn't spin, either. I decided that it was time to clean up the house, especially the kitchen. It's Nana's ninetieth birthday on Saturday, and hordes are descending. Well, maybe not hordes, but college kids and friends and other assorted relatives will definitely be descending. And Nana doesn't know a thing about it yet. But it was long past time to get the house in order. And all the extra stuff is now out of the garage. I can actually park a car in there now. Maybe, once I clean up all my stuff, there might even be room for a second car. But that's another weekend's work. Or two or three or sixteen.

But all things still continue. Knitting goes on, and so does the spinning. I went out in the yard on Sunday and spun in the sunshine for a while. I tried spinning without watching my hands, just to see what I could do by touch alone. It wasn't bad. Actually, it was pretty good. I became very conscious of the fibers sliding through my fingers and feeling how much twist was building up. I pick up the spindle very easily now; it's so easy to play with it for a few moments. No spot to find in the pattern, no rows to count to see where I left off. One night when I couldn't sleep and the brain was racing, I got up and spun for about twenty minutes. Concentrating on the roving and the spindle distracted my mind and I was able to go back to bed and fall quickly asleep.

Lately when I've been spinning I've been thinking about sheep. I see big curling horns and heavy fleece tangled with brush and dried bits of leaves. I think about the first time I touched a sheep. I must have been around eight or nine. I thought the wool would be all soft and fluffy; I still vividly remember that first surprising sensation when I dug my fingers into the heavy dense mass thick with lanolin, and the distinctive scent on my hand afterwards. How many of our memories do we have in our hands, that we can recall an exact feeling even years later? And I was always fascinated by spinning. I first saw spinning done at Greenfield Village. Then, as now, many docents give lectures and demonstrations on a daily basis, and always in costume of course. I was totally absorbed in watching the puffy roll of wool suddenly transform into thread. I didn't understand then, of course, about twisting the threads; it seemed like some sort of magic that the spinner did, effortlessly, with her hands.

It was magic, of course, and still is. Understanding how the process works has not made it any less magical. Thinking about the sheep while I spin the wool makes me feel very grounded in the earth. It's not consumerism, or materialism, or what-have-you; it's getting away from all that and feeling a solidarity with the women who have gone before. I wish I could have a little farm with my own sheep, with an old house and an older barn and living out with nature every single day. I think about that while I spin. I flick the spindle; I draft the wool; I watch the twist make the yarn. And I see sheep.


Blogger Ann said...

A really nice post, Pat. Thanks.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

How wonderfully put. I'm so glad your enjoying the spinning.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Dipsy D. said...

How amazingly relaxing and calming spinning seems to be! Reading through your wonderful entry, I felt a real longing to try it too!

2:26 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

That sounds so lovely. But I really can't get sucked in to ANOTHER hobby!

9:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Pat the first time I saw someone spinning it was also at Greenfield Villiage. On a great wheel (aka walking wheel, I believe). I wanted to LIVE there. Okay, I wanted to work there. But I was so young there was no way. And we didn't even live that close. So that was another lifetime ago. Many of my earliest inspiration in needlework came from seeing those things demonstrated at Greenfield Villiage because we visited there often when I was in high school. :)

6:18 AM  

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